"How far would you go to ask, R U OK" image courtesy RUOK?

Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison wants people across the electorate to use R U OK Day today to check in with family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues as a first step towards suicide prevention.

If you feel someone close to you or in your daily circle of acquaintances isn’t their usual self and maybe is struggling with life then a respectful chat could be a starting point for them.

R U OK conversation tips include;

  • Asking the question of the day – Are you OK?;

  • If the moment isn’t right then leave the offer open for a later time;

  • Take the time to listen without judgement;

  • Encourage action including asking if you can provide support; and,

  • Check-in by staying in touch and being there when needed.

Life is crowded with a range of pressures from relationships to home, work, finance and increasingly social media so it is important that we stop, take stock and acknowledge the state of our mental health.

Should the conversation be too big to take on alone with someone feeling low for more than two weeks or ‘at risk’, seeking professional help as soon as possible can be a lifesaver.

If it brings up wider issues such as domestic violence then resources such as the NSW Government’s Domestic Violence website or call the Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) can be accessed via web platforms or telephone.

For those who feel they are struggling and want to initiate the conversation talking to your local doctor or counselling services like Lifeline (call 13 11 14), the Suicide Call Back Service (call 1300 659 467) and Kids Helpline (call 1800 55 1800) can also assist.

Quotes attributable to Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison

“We’ve come a long way in Australia in being able to talk about issues such as suicide and mental health. R U OK Day is another opportunity for us all to lend an ear to a relative, friend, neighbour or colleague and help guide them to support services they may need.”

“R U OK Day doesn’t require us to be experts, we’re only being encouraged to have a discussion and listen. Ultimately we’re showing humanity to someone who may just need to talk.”